How To Talk To Your Siblings About Aging Parents
When it comes time to make a decision about your aging parent’s care, chances are you won’t be the sole person in charge of that decision. Oftentimes, other family members will be involved, and you will have to work together to come to a consensus on what’s best for your parent. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume those family members are your siblings, and we’ll assume they aren’t on the exact same page as you when it comes to deciding what’s best for your parent. Here are five tips for navigating that complicated family dynamic:
- Plan the conversation
No one wants an important conversation sprung on them. For that reason, and to make sure all your siblings are involved, it’s key to schedule these type of talks in advance. It may be good to do this in person over a holiday near where your parent lives—if you are the child most involved in your parent’s life, it may be helpful for your siblings to see where they’re at physically and mentally before having the discussion.
- Come prepared
Leading up to the meeting, you should document incidents with a parent that your siblings may not know about that have informed your opinion. While your siblings will probably already know about hospitalizations or other big incidents, they may not know about all the small, day-to-day things that may be worrying you. You can also share how caring for your parents has taken a toll on you personally, which is something they may not have considered.
- Let everyone share their opinion
Even if you are your parent’s primary caregiver, each of your siblings deserve to have their opinion heard. Present the facts, and allow them time to absorb what you’re saying. These conversations can often get emotional, so it’s important to make sure everyone is heard. Remember that you all want what’s best for your parent—you just may not agree on what that is.
- Ask for help if you need it
If you called this meeting, you’re likely overwhelmed with caring for your parent. Don’t mince words or play it off like you’re not struggling. Ask for the help that you need, but manage expectations. If your brother can’t help out financially, he could keep Mom or Dad company when you need a break. If your sister lives out of town, she could hire someone to help out when you can’t. Don’t hold a grudge if you feel that your siblings should have been helping out more up to this point, but don’t be afraid to say you’re underwater.
- Ask your parent what he or she wants
Yes, if your parent is still doing well mentally, it’s important to ask what he or she wants. You should do this while alone with your mother or father, rather than with all your siblings, so as not to overwhelm them with conflicting opinions. Chances are your parent will be resistant to the idea of a senior living facility, but he or she may be more perceptive than you think. Either way, your parent will appreciate having his or her voice heard.